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Patterns Bigger Than Any of Us: Jesse Fleming and Pat O'Neill

May 7 – August 12, 2017

A two-person exhibition of recent large-scale video installations from Los Angeles-based artists Jesse Fleming and Pat O’Neill. Each artist raises questions in his work about the self in relation to others, collective norms, and the built environment. 

In a Los Angeles Times review of Pat O’Neill’s solo exhibition at Cherry and Martin, art critic David Pagel compellingly described the open-ended nature of the artist’s work, stating that it is, “…all about loose ends, rough edges and patterns bigger than any of us.” (Pagel, 2015). This assertion points to a line of inquiry present in both Pat O’Neill and Jesse Fleming’s individual practices. Although distinct in their process and subject matter, each artist raises questions in his film and video work about the self in relation to others, collective norms, and the built environment. They direct us to see the links and fissures in our lives and the larger systems that we attempt to grapple with — from science to spirituality, and the spaces they straddle.   

O’Neill’s two-channel projection environment, No Wonder - Two Skins (2013) fills the front half of the Ben Maltz Gallery, and Fleming’s multichannel video installation, A Theory of Everything (2015) occupies the back. This presentation creates a chronological bridge between the works, suggesting a comparison of American society of the past and present. Both artists mine and collage found and original footage to create a new story, void of straight narrative and cinematic convention. O’Neill draws from the ephemeral films in the Prelinger Archives, which include thousands of titles produced by and for corporations, interest groups, and institutions that are now in the public domain. No Wonder - Two Skins combines various clips from the 1940s/50s that include educational tutorials about health, relationships, and science, as well as landscape and industrial scenes. Fleming sources videos from YouTube that depict more recent events such as a TED Talk, dance rave, and drumline performance. Through an act of recontextualization, Fleming and O’Neill offer a critical perspective to consider these forms of mass gathering, promotion, and propaganda.

Jesse Fleming (b. 1977) is part of an emerging group of artists and technologists that examine the convergence of media art and mindfulness. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Five Car Garage; 356 Mission; and Night Gallery, all in Los Angeles, CA; and the University of Texas in Austin, TX. His work has been presented by various art and cultural organizations, including the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA; Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, CA; Borusan Contemporary in Istanbul, Turkey; National Film Museum in Frankfurt, Germany; Creative Time in New York, NY; and the San Francisco Symphony. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY and Borusan Contemporary in Istanbul, Turkey.

Pat O’Neill’s (b. 1939) artistic and filmmaking career spans over 50 years, and he is highly-regarded for his experiments with film and optical printing. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA; Monitor in Rome, Italy; VeneKlasen/Werner in Berlin, Germany; Quinta do Quetzal in Vidigueira, Portugal; Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, NY; and Cherry and Martin in Los Angeles, CA. His work has been included in major exhibitions such as Electric Art at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1969; the 1991 Whitney Biennial of American Art; and Los Angeles 1955-1985: The Birth of an Art Capital at the Centre Pompidou in 2005. He has participated in several prestigious international film festivals, in cities including Toronto, Canada; London, United Kingdom; and Vienna, Austria. His work is held in major museum collections, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

Images, top and bottom: Jesse Fleming, A Theory of Everything, 2015. Video stills. Middle: Pat O'Neill, No Wonder - Two Skins, 2013.

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